Managing human capital

Buzz of the week

Management isn’t easy, and management in the government is even more complex.

The latest example of that is the Government Accountability Office. Last week, GAO analysts voted 897 to 445 to unionize, joining the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. Of course, that comes on the heels of GAO being named as the second best place to work in government by the Partnership for Public Service and American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.

It is too early to know the lessons from GAO’s efforts to modernize its workforce practices. As part of GAO’s pay-for-performance plan, Comptroller General David Walker decided to do away with annual cost-of-living increases for some employees in certain pay bands in lieu of...well, pay for performance. It is an understatement to say that concept has not gone over well.

Undoubtedly, lessons will accrue from GAO’s experience, particularly for the presidential candidates who will be looking at GAO and the Bush administration’s pay-for-performance initiatives at the Defense and HomelandSecurity departments.

Clearly, one lesson is that pay changes are difficult. The broader question is this: Are they necessary? A strong constituency argues that pay for performance is nearly impossible in government because it is so difficult to determine exactly what exceptional performance consists of. Performance in a government project is determined by so many factors.

Last week appears to have been a turning point in reforming the government pay system. What remains unclear is where that turning point takes us.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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